Friday, June 12, 2009

So Funny, I Forgot To Laugh!

I've been watching this feud between David Letterman and Sarah Palin pretty closely, and I am ready to declare a pox on both of their houses. If you are unfamiliar with the genesis of this feud, you can read about it here, or get the gist of it by watching this:

I was all ready to come to David Letterman's defense when I first heard about this. After all, jokes are whan Letterman does, and pushing the edge of propriety is part of his job. Plus, Palin's daughter, Bristol, who is now 18, was, in fact, "knocked up" even before her Mom came in to the national spotlight. Bristol Palin is fair game. However... Letterman made a joke about Palin's daughter getting knocked up at the Yankees game, and the problem is... the Palin daughter at the game was not 18-year-old Bristol, but 14-year-old Willow.

I can't defend jokes about getting innocent 14-year-old girls pregnant. Letterman should have apologized, and explained that he got the daughters mixed up. That would probably have been the end of it. But Letterman is not really going to apologize. Late night talk show hosts don't DO that. He has to save face with his audience... More significantly to Letterman, he's now in a white-hot ratings war with NBC, where viewers are still trying to decide whether they like Conan O'Brian. Letterman could have handled this with more class, but he's not going to.

At the same time, I can't paint the Palins as real victims in this, either. The feud keeps Sarah Palin in the national spotlight, which serves her political career well, and she's been able to use it to whip up a frenzy (and a few bucks, I'm sure) from the conservative right. Palin is right to defend her daughter, but you don't see her doing anything to try and quiet the controversy, either. And her husband, Todd, who accused Letterman of making a rape joke, just takes a valid complaint against Letterman and skews it way out of proportion.

There is one other news item that, sadly, is also drawing some laughs. Through a spokesperson, Chastity Bono has announced that she is, after years of consideration, going to transition and become a man. I heard my friends discuss this on the radio this morning and have a good ol' belly laugh over her decision to become "Chaz Bono". One of the hosts went so far as to say "I thought she already WAS a man".

Look - you can think transgenderism is misguided and wrong if you want - but to mock and laugh at someone's personal life decision is both cruel and disrespectful. Chastity Bono never asked to have a public persona. She was born with it, and has dealt with it her entire life. There is no way this transition was going to be allowed to take place privately, so it took enormous courage for Chaz to go forward with it at all. He is getting by with his life the best way he can.

How can you laugh at that?

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